A whistleblower at the Trump campaign’s data election analytics company just revealed how dark money was funneled into his campaign by one top backer, and potentially to many other Republican candidates. (video below)
Data scientist Chris Wylie told a British parliamentary committee that his former boss – top Trump backer and extremist billionaire Robert Mercer – used his investments into the data company to both subsidize Cambridge Analytica and to use it as a backdoor to funnel campaign contributions without disclosing them to either the UK or the USA.
He also explained that Trump-backer Peter Thiel’s Palantir – another secretive data company run by another blood-sucking billionaire – under contract to the US government and also met with Cambridge Analytica’s team.
A Member of Parliament asked Wylie about the circumstances of how the notoriously expensive Cambridge Analytica came to work for Nigel Farage’s famously ill-funded UKIP Party. That question led Chris Wylie to an explanation of why Mercer funded such expensive research by Cambridge Analytica. He told Parliament:
“Part of the brilliance of Cambridge Analytica is that it doesn’t need to make money. Robert Mercer [the major Trump donor] is a billionaire. He doesn’t need to make money.”
“Further, if you as an investor of a company put money as a shareholder, as an investor, into that company, that’s not classed as a political donation. That’s an investment in a company that you’re the owner of… but you can do that more pointedly and continue to invest purposely into a company so it can work for particular entities at a subsidized rate, or in some cases, for free.”
Wylie urged the Parliamentary committee to investigate Mercer for invest in his psychological warfare company, which exclusively worked for Republicans elections here and for far-right parties in the UK.
Adding a cherry to the top of Robert Mercer’s scheme, if Cambridge Analytica did book losses, he could write those off against profits on his tax returns, in effect using the tax savings to subsidize the whole operation.
A campaign vendor that gives out a special discount unavailable to others delivers what is known as an in-kind donation. Federal election law requires in-kind donations to be reported, but Mercer’s lawyers believed that the greater purpose of owning a campaign vendor would be to avoid exactly those kinds of limits or disclosures. Wylie told Parliament:
“Just because there’s a bill with a particular number on it… doesn’t mean that that’s the geniune value of the work that’s produced. Part of the brilliance of the setup that Robert Mercer created is that it becomes very easy to get around campaign finance laws in terms of declarations because it’s an ‘investment’ because he’s a shareholder.”
“I was there at the setup of the company… and the more money that he puts into that company, the less he has to declare in campaigns. If you just put $10 million into a company, that then services those clients and you can charge a reduced rate, you don’t have to declare what money is going where. It’s very opaque because he’s an ‘investor.'”
“He can put in $15 million to create something, but only charge $50,000 for it. It would’ve been physically impossible to get the same level of value, service, and data in any other way. Subsidizing the work of CA to the benefit of parties and candidates that he supports because they don’t pay the full value of what they received.”
What Wylie described to Parliament is the liberal dispensing of in-kind donations.
Robert Mercer held an unusual collection of roles as a Trump donor, the owner of his data vendor, the man in charge of a pro-Trump PAC and the owner of the pro-Trump Breitbart News website.
Mercer and his daughter Rebekah used their billions to concoct a web of entanglements that circumvented – at the very minimum – the intent of campaign finance laws which require disclosure and limits on coordination and political contributions during campaigns.
After Watergate, Congress imposed campaign finance reforms including reporting requirements and donation limits to combat the unseen hand of cash in politics, but Robert Mercer’s investment into Cambridge Analytica seems specifically designed just to circumvent those laws entirely.
Will American prosecutors take advantage of Wylie’s information to investigate Robert Mercer?
One would hope.
Watch Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie explain how Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer’s investments may have actually have been secretive campaign contributions: